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Soldiers searching for IEDs in Tierra Caliente region, Michoacan Since late December, soldiers have been searching for improvised explosive devices left behind by the CJNG in the Tierra Caliente region. File photo

Army deactivates 279 artisanal mines in Michoacán

The CJNG left improvised explosive devices in various parts of the Tierra Caliente region

Soldiers have found and defused 279 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán since December, newly uncovered military documents reveal.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has used the land mines in its fight against the Cárteles Unidos – a criminal group led by Los Viagras – and official security forces.

National Defense Ministry (Sedena) documents obtained by the newspaper Milenio via freedom of information laws reveal that the army has deactivated IEDs found on agricultural land, ranches and dirt roads in the municipalities of Tepalcatepec, Aguililla, Coalcoman, Apatzingán and Buenavista.

The army first became aware of the CJNG’s use of the mines on December 18. Soldiers have painstakingly searched for IEDs hidden under dirt or camouflaged among weeds in Michoacán’s Tierra Caliente, a notoriously violent region.

An armored army vehicle drove over one mine in Tepalcatepec in late January, causing it to explode. Five soldiers were injured, Milenio reported Monday. It was previously reported that 10 soldiers were hurt in the incident.

Exploded IED in Michoacan
An armored army vehicle drove over a mine in Tepalcatepec in late January. The explosion injured five soldiers, documents show.

Tepalcatepec ranks first for the number of IEDs detected by the army followed by Aguililla, where CJNG leader Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes was born. Over a dozen mines have been found in Naranjo de Chila, the capo’s hometown.

A 78-year-old man was killed in Aguililla in February when he drove over an IED. His son was badly injured.

The mines used by the CJNG have been compared to those deployed by Iraqi insurgents and organizations such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in wars against the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades, although they are not as powerful.

Security sources cited by Milenio earlier this year said the explosives consist of pipes filled with gunpowder, two-millimeter-thick pieces of metal, batteries, a detonator and other items.

Michoacán was the second most violent state in the first three months of the year with 756 homicides, according to official data.

The Tierra Caliente region has long been plagued by insecurity, but the army carried out an operation in February that, according to Sedena, succeeded in driving criminals out of 43 localities in the municipalities of Aguililla, Buenavista, Coalcomán and Tepalcatepec.

With reports from Milenio

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